TunnelBear offers both free and paid versions of its VPN service. The VPN app uses the industry-standard VPN protocol (OpenVPN) and 256-bit AES encryption.
However, their connection speed is not as fast as that of top VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Also, the free version has a bandwidth limit of 500MB per month.
But how does it compare to other VPNs? Is it a good option? Read this review to learn everything you neeappsd to know about TunnelBear VPN.
TunnelBear was established in 2011 by Ryan Dochuk and Daniel Kaldor.
The two were previously working at Microsoft, RIM, Sachs, and a mobile security start-up. This means they had extensive experience in the tech industry.
The VPN service is located in Toronto, Canada, and they have more than 350 servers across 22 other countries in the world.
This includes Australia, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.
|Price||$5.00 per month|
Pros of TunnelBear
Here are the advantages of using TunnelBear VPN:
TunnelBear does not store logs of the following:
- IP addresses that visit our website
- IP address after connecting to the service
- DNS Queries during the connection phase
- Information about websites or services users visit while connected to the VPN
For any user who is privacy conscious, this is good news as it means they are guaranteed security.
Most importantly, when the various surveillance agencies reach out to them, they won’t have any interesting information to hand over.
They will only give them the personal details they have as required by the law in Canada. Unfortunately, Canada is not one of the best jurisdictions for VPN privacy.
- Your name
- Email address
- Data usage
- Operating System version
- The last four digits of your credit card number
They don’t collect and store the whole credit card number, but they can still get it from their PCI – compliant payment services.
TunnelBear has an easy-to-use VPN app with solid encryption, which makes it leak-free. By default, the VPN uses OpenVPN protocol together with other sophisticated, strong AES-256 encryption.
According to TunnelBear, all its users are ‘protected by a bear’ and they use a cartoon bear to emphasize this over and over again.
The good news is that TunnelBear did very well during the testing process.
Here is how they did:
In addition, its installation app did exceptionally well, delivering nothing other than excellent results.
Free VPN plan and compatibility with multiple devices
The TunnelBear free plan is limited to 500mb.
Although the free plan is capped to such a small amount of bandwidth, you can still check out the software and do a couple of speed tests.
The app works on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. They also have a browser extension for both Chrom and Opera web browsers, and a tracker-blocking extension that accompanies all its services. It can also be used as a stand-alone.
Safety and Security
Despite being cheap, TunnelBear VPN is safe to use. The VPN uses OpenVPN, which is the industry-standard protocol, on Windows, macOS, and Android. OpenVPN is the default protocol.
The latest versions of iOS get IPSec/IKEv2, while older versions of getting IPSec, which is recommended.
Both OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2 come with 256-bit AES protection, whereas IPSec offers 128-bit AES encryption, which is still decent enough.
The fact that the United States government uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect data means you can be confident that this is a strong protocol.
In addition, the VPN service provides strong authentication and secure Diffie-Hellman key exchange. This ensures that you are connecting to the VPN’s server and not a third-party scam.
One of the most interesting features offered on TunnelBear is known as VigilantBear, which protects you when connecting and disconnecting from the service.
If your connection to the network drops or you switch from one access point to another, chances are some of your data will go to an insecure connection.
With VigilantBear, you can be sure that this will not happen as it acts as a kill-switch.
TunnelBear does not have any notable vulnerabilities. In fact, they have included a functionality that is able to detect DNS and IPv6 leaks. This aspect is particularly important in ensuring you are protected.
TunnelBear has not reported any case of big leaks so far and their encryption has not been cracked either. The VPN service has remained one of the safest providers to use out there.
However, keep in mind that their Diffie-Hellman key exchange may have some issues.
Although VPNs that work on Windows, Android, and iOS use the safer 2.048-bit DH groups, older versions of iOS use the less-safer 1,024-bit DH group. This could put you at risk of attacks from advanced attackers.
TunnelBear has some nice features that you will enjoy using. These include:
- Kill-switch or VigilantBear
- Anonymous IP
- Five simultaneous connections
As you probably know, some websites block traffic that comes from a VPN. This can be frustrating keeping in mind the never-ending battle between websites and VPN providers.
TunnelBear tries to prevent websites from depicting that you are using a VPN with the help of its GhostBear feature.
Although this will work in most cases, you may not be able to escape detection from some governments and businesses.
We recommend that you try to connect to the website you want to visit using the regular TunnelBear connection before using GhostBear. If you are unable to access the website, you can now try GhostBear.
Preventing websites from detecting that you are using a VPN tends to slow your connection to some extent, so you may not want to disable it unless you want to use it.
The goal of TunnelBear is to provide an easy to use interface that allows users to easily access all the features offered on the app.
It might not have sophisticated settings you may find in a top VPN service, but if you are only looking to get started with a VPN, it is the best option for you.
The app only shows the most important features you need to see, including the tunnel you are using, and where you are surfing the web from.
Of course, you can dig deeper to find more options, but if you don’t have time for this, you can be sure you will enjoy the simplified interface.
Browser extensions have been built in the same way; simply switch them on and leave them that way. That’s all!
Audited Independently for Security
VPNs have experienced a lot of negative publicity, such as logging data, bandwidth selling, and overstated security. These negative things tend to discourage people from using VPNs.
For this reason, TunnelBear has an independent body that audits the security of its VPN. This is not common in the industry and it takes a high level of commitment to implement such a move. Here are the results of the audit.
TunnelBear states it is the first and only company to provide this and it’s actually the only one we’ve seen. However, you should keep in mind that the last audit was done in July 2017, so it is yet to be updated.
Allows Torrenting and The Orion Router (TOR)
For the better part of the period that TunnelBear has been in service, they did not allow torrenting. However, that has changed in the recent past.
Although the VPN service has not given many details about their torrenting services on their website, we were able to contact TunnelBear customer support who gave us insight into their torrenting service.
The customer support agent confirmed that their VPN service allows torrenting as well as the use of TOR network.
This is significant improvement keeping in mind that it was not long ago when their stance of torrenting was a NO.
It is really impressive that they have taken a proactive decision to offer one of the most important services that most people are looking for in a VPN service.
TOR is an encrypted, secure web browser that many people like to use together with a VPN to take their anonymity a notch higher. Some VPN services don’t offer this option. However, the customer support agent at TunnelBear warned that this could significantly reduce speeds.
Excellent Customer Support
One thing you may not like about TunnelBear is its ticket-based support system. Also, they don’t have a live chat system.
However, there are still some positives you can pick from their customer service. The VPN service’s commitment to providing quality customer support ranks as one of the most reliable ticketed support systems.
When you contact TunnelBear, they will give you a timeframe of 48 hours. Of course, this sounds frustrating and annoying. However, they usually respond within two hours; at least that’s what our experience was.
Keeping in mind that it was a ticket system, that was so fast.
For the response, it has got it all, including the necessary links to supplement the response. You will definitely be satisfied with their response.
Cons of TunnelBear
One of the main problems you will encounter with the TunnelBear VPN is its server speeds. Although some users claim to have reported some good download speeds, we noticed that our 100 Mbps dropped to 52.26 Mbps when using servers in Europe.
That is a significant drop.
The results for various servers with a 100mb connection were as follow:
New York, US server
Ping – 120ms
Download – 33.38 Mbps
Amsterdam, EU server
Ping – 39ms
Download – 52.29 Mbps
Upload – 27.20 Mbps
Hong Kong, Asia server
Ping – 345ms
Download – 7.54 Mbps
Upload – 2.63 Mbps
London, UK server
Ping – 44ms
Download – 50.10 Mbps
Upload – 48.36 Mbps
With TunnelBear, you will always lose speed, which could ultimately affect your overall browsing experience.
They might not be the worst, but they are not good when you compare them with other reliable VPNs.
Does Not Work With Netflix
Netflix is always trying its level best to block VPNs. They have been able to block some of the leading VPNs with a wide range of servers around the globe.
When we contacted TunnelBear, they did not tell us many users had successfully unblocked Netflix. When you actually try, you will realize that none of their servers works with Netflix.
So, if you are looking for a VPN service that unblocks Netflix, you may want to look for another option.
Does Not Support Router Installation
You cannot install the VPN app on a router. If you don’t intend to use it on your router, then it is not a big deal. However, if you are planning to use a VPN app this way, you may be forced to choose another service.
Pricing and Plans
Here are the pricing and plans are as follows:
Free VPN is always great as it gives you the chance to test out the service. However, you only have a bandwidth limit of 500 MB per month.
Their first paid plan is Giant, which goes for $9.99 per month and comes with unlimited data. The largest pricing plan is Grizzly, which runs for a whole year and goes for $59.99 and unlimited VPN service.
Each plan allows you to protect up to five devices. Therefore, if you are looking for a VPN service that can be used by a whole family, then you should use TunnelBear.
It is also cheap; however, there are other better VPNs that surpass it.
Also, TunnelBear does not have a money-back guarantee. Instead, you can use their free version. You need to be sure before upgrading.
No logging – Yes
User-friendliness – Yes, they have a simple interface that is easy to use
Upsells – No upsells
Money-back guarantee – No refunds
DNS leaks – None
Immediate access upon payment – Yes
Jurisdiction – Canada
Kill-switch – Yes
Tunneling Protocols – OpenVPN & IKEv2
When it comes to making payments, you can use credit cards such as Mastercard, VISA, and American Express. You can also pay with PayPal and Bitcoin.
So, is TunnelBear the right VPN for you?
Well, it depends on your needs.
If you are only looking for a VPN that will protect you while browsing without having to deal with complicated options, then it is a great option.
The connection speed might not be the best, but they offer great customer support. They take into consideration your queries and provide the right response and additional resources for further assistance.
However, since connection speed is one of the key traits that define a great VPN service, you may want to go for better options.